5 Ways To Counteract The Side Effects Of Caffeine, From Experts

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Coffee

We've all been there: one cup of coffee too many and the jitters set in. Of course, not brewing another cup is the first place to start, but is there any other way to counteract the negative side effects of too much caffeine?

Learning the signs of too much caffeine and understanding your personal caffeine cutoff can serve as preventive measures. For the days where you don't get ahead, though, experts share five tips to help manage unwanted symptoms. 

How to counteract caffeine.

The best way to deal with too much caffeine, unfortunately, is to just wait it out, integrative medicine doctor Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., tells mbg. According to one study, it can take anywhere from three to 10 hours for caffeine to fully flush out of someone's system. 

While there's no real way to speed up the process, there are a few ways to help manage some of the unwanted side effects:

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1. Drink water.  

Consuming too much caffeine (namely coffee) can lead to dehydration. Urologist Vannita Simma-Chiang, M.D., previously explained to mbg that along with being a natural diuretic, coffee is also a bladder stimulant. Meaning, unless you're drinking enough water to rehydrate, you're pretty much just losing fluids. 

One way to tell if coffee is dehydrating you beyond your pee color? Check your lips. Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI, gastroenterologist and mbg Collective member, says dry lips are a sign that you may have had one mug too many.

Managing this side effect is simple enough: Adequately hydrate by drinking more water, eating hydrating foods, or adding in electrolytes.  

2. Move your body. 

"If you have time, try to work it off," Gandhi says. "Exercising and burning some calories might help." A migraine study found increased exercise can help reduce the effects of headaches, so even a short walk or a quick yoga flow may help. If anything, getting up and moving your body can help you release any excess energy.  

3. Eat fiber-rich foods.

Foods high in fiber, like whole grains, veggies, or legumes can help slow the absorption of caffeine, Gandhi explains. 

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4. Take supplements and adaptogens. 

Supplements and adaptogens, including L-theanine, ashwagandha, or rhodiola can help to relieve some of the anxiety and jitters caused by too much caffeine, Gandhi tells mbg. 

To avoid drinking too much coffee to start, Bulsiewicz makes his first cup more effective by adding in ashwagandha and maca root. "The ashwagandha itself takes off a little bit of the edge when I'm feeling fatigued, and the maca root is good for energy," he told mbg. After that, there's no need for another cup.  

5. Meditate or practice breathwork.

It might be hard to quiet your mind when you're filled with caffeine. Of course, that's not the case for everyone, but if the stimulating effects of coffee bring you anxiety or the jitters, taking time to slow down, practice breathwork, or meditate might help reduce those feelings. 

Not that we'd recommend forgoing sleep every night, but if caffeine is keeping you from a good night's rest, one study says just 40 minutes of meditation may reduce the need for sleep, at least temporarily. 

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How much caffeine is too much?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says anywhere below 400 mg of caffeine per day is generally safe. "After 400 mg of caffeine, you start to see the beneficial effects of coffee get replaced with negative side effects," exercise science and nutrition expert Shawn Talbott, M.S., Ph.D., previously said. 

To break it down, that's a little more than four cups of cold brew or regular brewed coffee, which both contain about 96 mg per cup. (Here: the caffeine content of popular drinks). 

Negative side effects of too much caffeine.

Going overboard with caffeine intake, whether it's from a coffee, tea, chocolate, or certain medications, can lead to these unwanted symptoms, according to integrative gastroenterologist Marvin Singh, M.D.:

  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia or palpitations)
  • Jitteriness 
  • Anxiety 
  • High blood pressure
  • Sodium and water retention
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues, like frequent bowel movements, indigestion, and acid reflux.
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Bottom line.

While it's not possible to rush excess caffeine out of your system, there are some ways to help mitigate the negative effects. Hydrating, practicing stress management and mindfulness techniques, and eating fiber-rich foods are just a few recommendations. 

For those looking to get ahead of the symptoms, consider microdosing your intake. Those looking to cut back altogether? Be mindful of these possible withdrawal symptoms

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